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Exibitions 1983

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Index of artists, authors and curators

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OPTICA Fonds (Concordia University Archives)

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Peter Gnass
From January 18th 1983 to February 5th 1983

The following document is only available in French:
"L’exposition « Réalité/ Fiction » à la Galerie Optica est composée de deux propositions ; la première, la simulation d’un polygone peint sur un ensemble de maisons à Montréal par le biais d’une série de photographies manipulées et d’objets témoins, accompagnée d’un catalogue avec un texte descriptif et analytique signé Louise Poissant. La deuxième salle contient une installation éphémère conçue dans la galerie et construite à l’aide de tubes lumineux argon et de miroirs où les murs mêmes de l’espace servent de support. Également, l’artiste nous présente une série de photographies couleurs de certains travaux réalisés en Europe, ainsi que quelques dessins de projets."
- Press release (Optica)

Sorel Cohen
From February 15th 1983 to March 5th 1983
An Extended and Continuous Metaphor

This work evolved through my continuing interest in the staged event for the still camera- the photo-performance, in which I often performed within an autobiographical context, and where the photographs made reference to contemporary painterly aesthetic.

These private performances for the still camera have caused me to reflect on the nature of creative experience becoming an event rather than a process. In performance, a change occurs between the artist’s role and art product. The producer and the product meld to the point where the artist’s posture becomes the actual artwork. In other words, the art object produced and the process of producing it, are not only integral, they can be literally one and the same thing. This is the condition of performance and the subject of my new work, in which I attempt to define and document this integration.

In these photographs, “An Extended and Continuous Metaphor", I am my own subject, my own object, my own objectifier, as well as spectator and audience of my own actions. They represent the condition whereby gesture and object are fused. Painting, the archetypal art-making activity is used allegorically to illustrate this integration, and I maintain a continued interest in the painterly and lyrical potential of the colour photographs of my earlier work.

The physical arrangement of these photographs is an attempt to move away from the grid and linear systems of earlier work to a necessary hierarchical system, and is based on Flemish altarpieces.
- Artist's statement (1982)

Graham, Robert, "Sorel Cohen", Vanguard, May 1983.
"Sorel Cohen", Parachute, juin/juillet/août, 1983.

Austin Metze
From February 15th 1983 to March 5th 1983
Incident at Pine Grove

The drawings are 36” high. The rectangular piece with the triangle extending from the bottom is 6’ high. The last slide is a work in progress consisting of three panels, each 4’x10’, projecting out from the wall in varying dimensions. This group is intended to be the first in a series of panels that will occupy the far wall in the large gallery at Optica. They will be a primary source for other pieces that will occupy the space- standing sculptural elements will be placed in front of them; stacked lengths of 2x4’s will shoot across the floor at irregular angles, touching against adjacent walls and relating to other panels and reliefs. The existing columns in the room will be active elements in the installation. They are the first sculptures already in place.

All of the parts, some painted, some natural, are to be balanced between the geometry of the space; the illusionistic references in the painted surfaces; and their own three dimensionality. The room is the support surface and the personality it develops with relationship to the painting and sculpture is the story. The idea is not to explain the room, but rather to possess it. As you can see in the slides of the reliefs however, it will not be without humour.

Examples of some of the interplays:
Texture implied- texture felt
Implied space- actual space
A painting utilizing triangular shapes- a triangular sculpture- a painting of a triangular sculpture that assumes the dimensions of the wall.
- Artist's statement

Douglas Curran
From March 15th 1983 to April 9th 1983
In Advance of the Landing / Folk Concepts of Outer Space

“Among Canadian photographers, Douglas Curran has become something of a legend. People talk about how in 1977 the Ryerson photography graduate began his single-minded pursuit of individuals, groups and artefacts associated with UFOlogy, how he packed up his battered lemon-yellow Renault with camera equipment and provisions, and travelled all over Canada and the U.S. following tips and intuition.

In the course of nearly four years on the road, Curran assembled a formidable array of black-and-white and colour photographs.

Among them: a portrait of a middle-aged woman in a flowing gown- Archangel Uriel of a California group called Unarius- alighting from her futuristically decorated car; a scene of a circle of people atop Mount Rainier, Washington engaged in an annual ritual of attempted telepathic communication with extraterrestrial beings; and a view of a roadside restaurant built in the shape of a flying saucer. Curran also gathered clippings and other written material on UFOlogy.

Indeed, the young photographer has produced the first comprehensive photo documentary study of the phenomenon. His collection of images and text, entitled “In Advance of the Landing- Folk Concepts of Outer Space”, will be on view at Optica Gallery in Montreal [...]”
- Abbott, Louise, “For photographing Curran, UFOlogy is a modern religion”, The Gazette, Thursday, March 10, 1983.

- Abbott, Louise, “For photographing Curran, UFOlogy is a modern religion”, The Gazette, Thursday, March 10, 1983.

Brian Groombridge
From April 19th 1983 to May 7th 1983
A System of Five Moving Parts

Brian Groombridge is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design. He has participated in several group exhibitions since 1978, at Gallery 76, A Space, Mercer Union and Optica. His first solo show was held at YYZ Gallery last year.

Mark Ruwedel
From April 19th 1983 to May 7th 1983

The photographs to be exhibited are from an ongoing, open-ended exploration of the contemporary landscape. Most of them have been made in the past two years, in the Montreal area, Eastern Pennsylvania, New York and Southern New Jersey, places I have been familiar with longer than I have been photographing. My desire is both to enrich and expand the ideas of possibilities of the photographs and to increase understanding of the subject matter.

I am interested in certain aspects of the altered environment and the design, either planned or accidental, of used spaces. The work considers the interaction of the made and the natural and the resultant tensions or harmonies. In most cases I have avoided including people in the images in order to call attention to the environments themselves, although their presence is always implied by the objects and places pictured.

The photographs are made in an attitude of curiosity and with a certain amount of acceptance and respect for the subject.
- Mark Ruwedel, Artist's statement (September 25, 1982)

Denis Farley
From May 13th 1983 to May 28th 1983
D'un mouvement de l'oeil

The following document is only available in French:
« Le Centre montréalais Optica présentait, en mai dernier, une installation de techniques mixtes réalisée par l’artiste Denis Farley. Dans un texte d’introduction, l’artiste décrit sa présentation comme « une synthèse photographique liée à la performance « About the Eyes » et à l’installation dans laquelle l’événement eut lieu, au Centre des Arts de Banff, en août 1981 ».

C’est donc une reconstitution (par l’image et par objet) que nous propose Denis Farley, ainsi qu’un parcours à explorer : celui de la salle sud de la galerie, divisée en deux, pour l’occasion, par un papier noir tendu entre les colonnes médianes de l’espace.

D’un côté de cette division, une suite de séquences photographiques ; de l’autre, une installation. A l’intersection de ces deux espaces, une œuvre composée d’un tissu blanc, utilisé lors de la performance initiale, enroulé sur le sol, près du mur, et surmonté de xérographies en couleur, réalisées à partir d’images de cette même performance.

Cette exposition soulève deux questions intéressantes (reprises par ailleurs de plus en plus fréquemment chez les photographes). La première a trait à l’utilisation de la séquence photographique et de ses fins. La seconde dévoile le désir de l’artiste de vouloir confronter, à l’intérieur d’une même proposition, des problèmes issus de pratiques différentes, comme l’installation, la performance et la photographie [...] »

- Gaboury, Michel, « Denis Farley et la Synthèse Photographique », 1983, p. 70-71, [revue inconnue].

Jenny Holzer
From May 13th 1983 to May 28th 1983
Inflamatory Essays

Jenny Holzer's posters similarly can be located in any city and within or outside the gallery. The posters are not specific to any context; they are specific to a genre. The posters occupy the site of street posters and graffiti, although, they are on occasion artificially placed and decoratively coloured and assembled. As with advertisements, the meeting with an audience is accidental, but the posters do not take the form of address and seduction of advertisement. The language seems direct and the posters in situ have all the bonhomie of art povera and process art. (p. 32)
- Monk, P, “Arguments within the Toronto Avant-Garde”, Parallelogramme, Vol. 8, no. 4, p.32 + p.63.

- Monk, P, “Arguments within the Toronto Avant-Garde”, Parallelogramme, Vol. 8, no. 4, p.32 + p.63.

Jocelyne Alloucherie
From June 4th 1983 to June 23rd 1983
«Quelque part entre (...) de l'image citation anonyme»

The following document is only available in French:
« Ma définition du lieu est restée empreinte de nomadisme, c’est-à-dire qu’elle est basée sur l’idée d’un parcours plus que sur une attache réelle à un site particulier. C’est une fiction se traduisant en des pièces fort différentes, mises en relation in situ par des stratégies rappelant celles de la mise en scène. Ces œuvres fonctionnent encore comme objets autonomes (du moins, je le souhaiterais ainsi), s’élaborant selon une logique interne de structuration assez près de l’esprit du jardin, qui permet d’associer et de concentrer dans l’objet des notions relatives à l’architecture et au paysage.

L’utilisation de la photographie, dans mes pièces récentes, peut surprendre par son caractère inusité. Il ne s’agit aucunement de superposer bêtement une catégorie sur une autre (sculpture/photographie) mais d’utiliser l’image photographique parcimonieusement comme un moyen efficace de report de réel (éléments végétaux et architecturaux) à des fins précises ; accentuer le côté fragment de certains petits objets de bois, et surenchérir sur l’aspect fictif de certains jeux d’échelle : (miniaturisation, gigantisme) [...] »
- Jocelyne Alloucherie, artist's statement (mai 1983)

- Le Devoir, 4 juin 1983, p.31.

Ashley Miller, Fred McSherry, Bill Vazan, Diane Gougeon, Gilbert Boyer, Murray MacDonald
From September 13th 1983 to October 5th 1983
Sites / Locations

"Locations/National" is a unique project both in scope and magnitude. From Halifax to Victoria, Canadians will be able to encounter artwork by Canadians, on a local as well as national level.

In the spirit of the 1983 World Communications Year, "Locations/National" is establishing a model communications network for future cultural projects between Canadian cities. Rather than the traditional approach of concentrating culturally-relevant activities in major centres for the benefit of a few, the national link-up in “Locations/National” will allow for the crucial exchange of information on a national level.

"Locations/National" will involve Mercer Union, Toronto; Eye Level, Halifax, Articule and Optica, Montréal; Off Centre Centre, Calgary; and Open Space, Victoria. Each centre will sponsor the installation of artworks by local artists in a non-gallery context. Documentation of all the works (to include maquettes, preliminary drawings, photographs and video) will be displayed in all the galleries from September 20th to October 8th, 1983.
- Press release (Open Space Gallery, Victoria)

Alex Neumann
From September 13th 1983 to October 5th 1983

“Alex Neumann’s exhibition at Optica was warm and visually seductive. The show was comprised of 13 photographs placed on the wall in the simplest way possible: unmated images under sheets of glass held up by nails. The prints were all 4x5 enlargements; 11 colour, and 2 black and white.

Neumann’s photographs are essentially arid summer landscapes. Water is only alluded to by the vegetation, but never seen. Warm earth tones, lush greens and deep blue skies fill the images with dramatic flavour. Quite naturally, these desert images exclude human beings- however the unseen presence of the photographer is felt very strongly [...]”
- Dagenais, Francine, “Photographie”, Vanguard, November 1983, p. 46.

Sheila Butler
From October 11th 1983 to November 2nd 1983
Tableaux et sculptures

Though Winnipeg artist Sheila Butler's work has often been seen in Western Canada and the American Midwest, this is her first one-person show in Montreal. The exhibition consists of 5 works combining a freestanding papier-mâché figure with a painting. Butler, in this way, pushes beyond the constraints of the picture frame into real space while maintaining the illusory, metaphorical space typical of her earlier work. Butler is engaged in an investigation of human relationships in these intimate, social, or political manifestations.

With Butler the focus may indeed be the figure, but the expression is achieved by the relationship between the component parts; the image is only one element in that matrix. Within that desire to establish a balance of tension between the various components, lies the need to generalize, to reduce the figure to a symbol.
- Nancy Dillow
- Press release (Winnipeg Art Gallery)

Arnaud Maggs
From October 11th 1983 to November 2nd 1983

The following document is only available in French:
Cette exposition est composée de trois œuvres, chacune étant un assemblage de vues de face ou de profil de Joseph Beuys. Elles témoignent de l’intérêt soutenu de Maggs pour le portrait et de son respect pour Muybridge ainsi que d’autres pionniers de la photographie.

« Je pense avoir appris quelque chose tout en faisant les cent vues de face de Beuys. J’ai appris qu’il était relativement facile pour une personne de garder la pose et de faire face à la caméra sans que la figure change trop d’expression... »
- Arnaud Maggs, Photo Communiqué, Automne 1982

« La technique rigoureuse (de Maggs) pourrait être vue comme une mise à vif de la vérité. Mais la caméra peut mentir... Ce qui nous apparât d’abord comme un genre de photographie vérité provoque chez le spectateur une tension envoûtante entre la confiance et la méfiance... »
- David Livingstone, MacLean’s, décembre 1982
- Press release (Optica)

Robert Murray
From November 8th 1983 to November 26th 1983

The following document is only available in French:
Du 8 au 26 novembre, Optica présente « Ecto- Endo », un assemblage récent de R. Holland Murray. Résident de Montréal depuis 1965, Murray s’est souvent manifesté au Canada ainsi qu’au Etats-Unis.

L’artiste élabore ci-dessous les principes fondamentaux sur lesquels s’appuient ses convictions et sa pratique de l’art :

« L’art est une expérience au monde des sens. Un éventail limité de constituantes telles que forme, volume et couleur se combine dans le but d’exprimer idées et concepts.

Toute culture se caractérise par certains aspects en organisant des séquences spécifiques qui reflètent ses intérêts ; ce qui crée un langage codé où convergent des notions anciennes et modernes. La connaissance rationnelle et intuitive s’y retrouvent liées. Le concept exprimé s’unit à la mémoire évoquée.

C’est au sein de cette dualité inhérente au code que ce travail s’accomplit : une coexistence de l’illusion et du réel. Dans ce contexte, les œuvres présentées ne sont pas didactiques mais un énoncé... une combinaison de signes qui communique un message. »
- Robert Murray, novembre 1983
- Press release (Optica)

Toby MacLennan
From November 8th 1983 to November 26th 1983
The Absence of a Hole

"The film/sculpture installation concerns a person who sets out on the process of inventing their own life. In their quest for knowledge is the realization that their culture does not consider this commodity of value and therefore can give no clues as to its acquisition. If one is to come to a significant sense of their own life at all, it will be entirely through their own innovation. This installation documents this experiment."
- Toby MacLennan

"To say that Toby MacLennan’s work integrates striking verbal and visual metaphor to reveal the relationship between things and between subject and object does not capture its distinctive quality. Admittedly these revealed relationships often turn ordinary perceptions on their heads and instil a sense of wonder that revitalizes the world around us- the world of spoon and cups no less than the landscape of night and ocean waves..."

The extraordinary distinction of MacLennan’s compositions is that they compel us to care about the connections she forges and the edges she blurs. When a stone teaches us about movement, and a chair about curiosity and a seashell about human desire, her images are no longer finite spectator events.
- Sheila MacIntire, publication by the Centre for Inter-American Relations, New York.
- Press release (Optica)

Toby MacLennan, who now lives in Toronto, has presented her performances, films, installations, and writings in many Canadian and American centres since the early 70’s.

Stacey Spiegel
From December 1st 1983 to December 20th 1983

Twelve painted photographs, one wooden construction, and a sound piece make up Spiegel’s installation at Optica, addressing the subjects of mechanization, naturalism, and the social environment.

In discussing four works by Spiegel in his recent one person show at London, Ontario’s Forest City Gallery, Goldie Rans says:

“Certainly they are sociable works, unthreatening, and even garrulous- four of them make sounds. Collectively, also, their forms refer to the industrial cityscape... and to the human body.”

In contrast, of the fifth work, Rans continues:

“Brutally unpleasant, Revelation, like a Biblical prophet, has the power to frighten and repel, to threaten mutilation and destruction on the one hand, and to promise continuity and renewal on the other.”
- Goldie Rans, Vanguard, September, 1983

The elements and concerns mentioned above are simultaneously at play in the installation conceived especially for this exhibition.
- Press release (Optica)

Stacey Spiegel, who now lives in Toronto, has shown extensively in solo and group exhibitions in Ontario since 1980.

Michel Saulnier
From December 1st 1983 to December 20th 1983
«Le Groupe des Sept»

The following document is only available in French:
J’expose sur les murs d’Optica un groupe de sept maisons standardisées avec paysage inclus. La construction comprend différents types de contreplaqués, de la peinture à l’huile et à l’acrylique, des vernis, des clous et de la couverture de toit (trouvés et achetés). Elle met en scène un type d’assemblage de contreplaqués qui agit comme une coupe dans la couche picturale de la peinture orthodoxe. Cette série s’intéresse aux dessous de la peinture.

Historique : Le prétexte de ce travail est purement matérialiste. Avec du contreplaqué trouvé je fais des maisons (la logique de matériau). De même, le découpage des paysages dans les maisons standardisées représente la matière première.

Fortuit de la méthode, ou l’autre à nu : Mais que peut signifier la représentation de l’arbre, de la montagne et de la mer dans une maison ? La maison par laquelle l’auteur se subjectivise depuis deux ans. Car ce n’est pas dans la (les) touche(s) qu’on peut le reconnâtre, il les manipule comme ses matériaux ; trouvés.
- Michel Saulnier, Artist's statement (October 1983)